June is National Dairy Month and the 7th Annual Dairy Day in Chenango County took place
on Saturday, June 16th at the fairgrounds in Norwich. There was a parade and many exhibits that promoted the dairy business. No other business in Chenango County has gone through more changes than that of the dairy farm.
Dairy farming in New York State started in earnest around 1840. Initially farmers made their own butter and cheese at home and had a milk house over a stream to keep the milk and other products cold. Butter was put in firkins, sold to a butter depot, such as the one on Genesee Street or to the Marcy Farm, and shipped to market on the Chenango Canal. Also, at this time the Holstein cattle with their large milk production were being imported into the area and improving the dairy farms. Gerritt Miller of Peterboro, NY, did much to bring the breed into public notice in central New York State.
In 1870, the railroad was built in Greene and butter and cheese factories sprang up. The Marcy Cheese Factory, Day Spring Cheese Factory (near Brisben) and Harbor Butter and Cheese Factory were three of the big companies. On Oct. 24, 1877, the Chenango American stated that Greene was one of the largest butter depots in the State. The butter and cheese were shipped out on the railroad. Fluid milk was not yet shipped to distant markets because of the difficulties in keeping it from spoiling. The next article will deal with the local handling of milk with its pasteurization and delivery.
Around 1885, milk plants began to replace the butter and cheese factories. There was a milk plant in reach of every farmer so he could take his 10-gallon milk cans there twice a day. Sometimes the terms milk plants and creameries were synonymous and sometimes the creameries made butter and cheese. There were condenseries, also,where raw milk was reduced into a condensed form by removing 60% of the water in milk by heat and pressure. This is called evaporated milk or if sugar is added, it’s sweetened condensed milk. There was a Borden’s Condensery near New Berlin that made Borden’s Eagle Brand. You can still buy that brand but is not made there anymore. After whatever processing was done to the milk, it was loaded onto milk trains and shipped to New York City. In the Greene area, there were the Empire State Dairy Company, Stillwater Creamery, Chenango Valley Dairy Company, Brisben Creamery, Borden’s, Dairymen’s League and Queens Farms Milk Station, to name a few.
The local milk plants or factories are gone. Milk is now held in large tanks on farms and pumped into tanker trailers and taken to whatever processor needs it. This is coordinated by Dairy Marketing Service in Syracuse that does the routing and directing. The Queens Farms Dairy transformed itself into one of the big transporters of milk in our area. It is now called Coventry Transport Service and is owned by Tom Tripple. Tom says that one citizen of Coventry still talks about “calling down to the factory” when he contacts him. Some habits die hard.
In 1966 when bulk milk began, Tom bought an 18-wheeler milk tanker and hauled milk for Queens Farms Dairy, a New York City firm that ran the company in Coventry where Tom worked. He later took over the business and presently has 31 18-wheeler tanker trailers and 37 employees. Since Tom has owned the business, there has never been one day out of 365 days a year that milk has not been picked up from over 300 farms except for last year’s flood in June. The roads were washed away and it was impossible to get through to six farms in Delaware County. What an impressive record!
So next time you see a Coventry Transport Service milk tanker on the road or in a parade, as it was on Dairy Day in Norwich, take a good look and marvel at its size, utility and dependablility. Think about its importance to the dairy industry.
Support the dairy farmers. Drink milk! Eat ice cream! Ask for extra mozzarella on your pizza!